Peripheral Arterial Disease – Prevalence in the Patient Population and Treatment Strategies

As you’re probably already aware, Peripheral Arterial Disease (PAD) is a vascular condition that causes reduced blood flow to the extremities of the body – arms and legs.  Patients with poor dietary habits or that drink or smoke are at higher risk of developing PAD.  The narrowing of the arteries that is a hallmark of the vascular condition may frequently be exacerbated by accumulation of fatty deposits that can further reduce vascular health. 

As PAD progresses, oxygenated blood is prevented from reaching the extremities in sufficient volumes.  Over time, hypoxic tissues deteriorate, and symptoms of PAD emerge.  Patients may report symptoms that include coldness in the lower leg or foot.  Changes in skin tone and appearance, such as shiny, scaly skin and discoloration are also warning signs. Late stage symptoms include cramping in thigh and calf muscles, loss of hair, slow-growing toe nails and sores that will not heal.  Diabetes is also highly correlated with PAD, causing inflammation in the arteries and accelerating atherosclerosis. 


Epidemiological studies have placed worldwide prevalence of lower extremity peripheral artery disease (PAD) as high as 12%. In Europe and North America, an estimated 27 million individuals are affected with approximately 413,000 inpatient admissions annually attributed to PAD.  PAD prevalence and incidence are correlated with age, rising more than 10% among patients in their 60s and 70s. With aging of the global population, it seems likely that PAD will be increasingly common in the future. Prevalence seems to be higher among men than women for more severe or symptomatic disease. 

Given the high prevalence of PAD, medical practices should be familiar with and prepared to treat this disease, as patients will likely increasingly present with the conditions.  Particularly true if your patient population is predominantly older individuals.

recommended treatment

Lifestyle changes:

  • Smoking cessation
  • Regular exercise


  • Antihypertensives
  • Statins
  • Anticoagulants (in advanced cases)

PAD treatment may be complemented with neurostimulation treatment. Neurostimulators can increase transcutaneous partial oxygen pressure in the extremities.  These minimally invasive devices deliver low levels of electrical current to the vagus nerve, improving perfusion of blood in the arms and legs.  Treatment facilitates movement, which can increase the efficacy of other treatment methodologies.

In summary, PAD is a growing disease correlating to an aging population.  Medical practices should be familiar with the extent of treatment options to fully satisfy patient demand and optimize satisfaction.  


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